Review – Arrival


2016’s Arrival is a science fiction thriller directed by Denis Villeneuve (Prisoners, Sicario) and is based on the short story The Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang adapted by Eric Heisserer who wrote the screenplay.

Amy Adams stars as Louise Banks, an expert in language and translation who is called upon when a number of alien vessels appear on Earth in various locations. The intentions of the aliens, who are attempting to communicate are not known and Banks is brought in by Colonel GT Weber (Forest Whitaker) to attempt to understand their language, and to understand what their plans are.

Alongside Banks as they begin to attempt to communicate with the aliens is Dr Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner), a theoretical physicist.

The film progresses with both their ongoing attempts to understand the aliens, but also against the backdrop of increasing tensions across the planet. These tensions are taking the form of looting and fuel / food shortages, but also the knowledge that other nations are attempting their own communications with the aliens (including Russia and China) and that these may lead to a different, more aggressive stance towards the visitors.


Amy Adams, who I remain of the view that she is incredibly underrated, delivers another standout performance, in her role through the film with essentially the whole narrative of the film resting on her performance. From the initial entrance into the craft, all the way through the efforts to communicate and interspersed cut away moments, she shines throughout the film.

The score (by Johan Johannsson)  too stands out with usage of what feels like aboriginal music in some parts and haunting orchestral score (which in part uses Max Richter’s ‘On the Nature of Daylight‘ at other moments through the film.

Villeneuve direction of this matches the quality of his previous work, which when you look at the work he’s delivered, is a significant achievement. Tension builds throughout the scenes (especially those on the alien craft) and he has woven a film together that is thought provoking, moving, and really really smart.


That, ultimately is one of the main achievements of the film, it doesn’t dumb down its content and delivers a very clever film that manages to keep getting better throughout. In the recent series of smart science fiction that Christopher Nolan has been a large part of with Inception and Interstellar, it really stands out as an achievement.

I’d really encourage anyone that hasn’t seen it to make the effort. It is easily one of the very best films of 2016.

9/10 (I feel a bit like it could be a 10)

That’s what I thought – what about you? Have you seen it? Comment below and share your thoughts…


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